The Falcons have an interesting first-round selection with the No. 4 spot, giving them the option to trade up or down or stay put.
In NFL.com’s Charley Casserly’s latest mock draft, he has the Falcons trading down to the Panthers’ spot at pick No. 8 to select Alabama running back Najee Harris.
“Why”, you ask?
“The Falcons trade back and still get their top choice — a dynamic running back whom Arthur Smith can build his offense around,” Casserly explained. “I know we rarely see running backs go this early these days, but Todd Gurley is a pending free agent and Atlanta has to have a strong running game if it’s going to get back to competing for a playoff spot.”
While the Falcons taking a running back in the first round might be frowned upon, Harris would add some serious help to an empty backfield.
This past season Harris rushed for 1.466 yards and 26 touchdowns on 251 attempts (5.8 yards per carry). He also reeled in 43 catches for 425 yards and four touchdown receptions for the National Champs.
The Falcons Need to Their Backfield
The Falcons finished the 2020 season ranked 27th in the NFL with an average of 95 rush yards per game.
Falcons running backs Todd Gurley and Brian Hill are both expected to hit the open market once the new league year rolls around in March. This could possibly leave them with just Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison.
The Falcons acquired Todd Gurley last offseason, but he didn’t live up to his expectations and even lost his starting spot to Hill towards the end of the season. The Falcons’ only way of re-signing Gurley would be for a very cheap price, which he might agree to. And Hill wouldn’t be a bad option to re-sign, but he has some work to do.
Smith showed some flashes of hope, but nothing too reliable, and Ollison has struggled to even make the gameday roster.
If it’s not Harris that the Falcons turn to in the first round of the 2021 draft, they’re going to have to turn to someone in the middle rounds.
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Falcons Are Open to All Possibilities
Falcons’ general manager Terry Fontenot said the franchise is open to “all possibilities” when it comes to the No. 4 pick.
“There are so many different scenarios,” Fontenot said via AtlantaFalcons.com. “There are going to be some really good players there at No. 4. We can move up, and we can move down and acquire more picks. There’s just a lot of different scenarios to really go through. It’s a prime spot to be in. It’s not somewhere that we want to be in very often with this team, but we are going to take advantage of that and be open to all possibilities.”
The Falcons plan on taking their time, though the new league year begins less than a month on March 17th and Atlanta is tasked with having to still fill over 50 percent of their roster.